Kostas Papanikolaou's Rise

        A couple of weeks ago, Greek forward Papanikolaou looked to be a perfect prospect to go undrafted in June's NBA Draft; he was averaging just 6.1 points and 3.4 rebounds, while shooting 49 percent overall from the field and 33.3 percent from behind the arc. He was a classic tweener- not skilled enough to play full-time on the wing and lacking the physical profile to play in the blocks as a 4. But things have changed a bit over the last week as the 6'8" Olympiacos forward locked down on former-NBA wing Andrei Kirilenko in the Euroleague Finals.

        When CSKA Moscow took on Olympiacos of Greece, it was the unexpected Papanikolaou that led his team to victory with a game-high 18 points, knocking down all five of his field-goal attempts, including three 3s and 5-of-6 from the foul line. Coming off the bench, it was a huge boost in the 62-61 win. When taking a closer look into this prospect, he has the pedigree. In 2009, he won the gold medal at the U-20 European Championships in New Zealand; he averaged 11.8 points and 6.4 rebounds and was named the MVP of the Tournament.

        Offensively, he is still developing his skill set, needing to develop his outside shooting and ball-handling. His slashing is hindering by mediocre athleticism, yet his high basketball IQ helps him contribute in many areas across the board. His size and length are especially crucial on the defensive end where he can play on the wing or in the post, clogging up passing lanes or locking down the blocks.

By President Corey Ruff - 5 - 17 - 12